After years of analyzing the NFL's annual college draft from the friendly confines of the Virginia Mason Athletic Center (and previously the "old" Kirkland facility on the east side of Northwest College) I traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to help Pete Prisco, Will Brinson and a host of others cover the 2015 draft for CBSSports.
Though I'm paid to cover all 32 NFL teams, that doesn't mean I wasn't paying extra attention to what John Schneider, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks were doing.
In typical Seahawks fashion, the club invested heavily in explosive athletes, with the club's first two picks - rusher Frank Clark and wideout/returner Tyler Lockett each expected to make an immediate impact.
At a chiseled 6-3, 271 pounds, Clark is a prototypical defensive lineman, blessed with disproportionately long arms (34 and 3/8") and an explosive burst. He's powerful at the point of attack against the run and is a productive, passionate edge rusher. Early in the year, when I spoke to scouts traveling through Ann Arbor, Clark was the player generating the buzz, not wideout/tight end Devin Funchess, who found up being selected earlier in the second round by the Carolina Panthers.
After interviewing Clark at the Combine, the Seahawks (and other clubs) had grown more comfortable with his arrest in November on a domestic violence charge that led to then-Michigan head coach Brady Hoke kicking him off the team. These charges were ultimately reduced to disorderly conduct and Clark faces no upcoming restrictions based on these charges. Carroll, of course, has a soft spot (and proven track record) with players with a checkered past, focusing their aggression onto the field.
Contrasting Clark's off-field questions was Seattle's next pick, NFL legacy and Kansas State team captain Tyler Lockett, who lacks size but not toughness or playmaking ability, offering immediate help at both receiver and returner.
With Pro Bowl center Max Unger traded away and starting left guard James Carpenter signing with the New York Jets, the Seahawks were widely expected to focus on the offensive line. Instead, they reinforced the defensive line with Clark and "tool-sy" sixth round pick Obum Gwachum, a bulked up former wide receiver. Former West Virginia right guard Mark Glowinski could compete for early playing time with fellow fourth rounder Terry Poole and defensive line convert Kristjan Sokoli (he'll be asked to switch to the offensive line for the Seahawks) offering offensive line coach Tom Cable toys to develop. Waiting until Day Three to address the offensive line proves that the Seahawks are more confident in the development of youngsters Patrick Lewis and Alvin Bailey at center and left guard, respectively, than some outside of the franchise.
Cable's success in helping J.R. Sweezy make a similar transition should give Seahawks fans confidence in Sokoli as a possible diamond in the rough. Seattle, of course, has been even better in finding late round defensive backs to fit Carroll and new defensive coordinator Kris Richard's scheme, so it will be fascinating to watch the development of Towson cornerback Tye Smith and Oregon State defensive back Ryan Murphy.
Of the 12 undrafted free agents signed by Seattle, former Green Beret Nate Boyer is the most inspirational story but wide receiver Austin Hill (Arizona) could have the best chance at making the roster or at least the practice squad due to his strength as a blocker and reliable hands.
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